Over the weekend (Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February), various national publications reported the Government was considering plans to allow pubs to serve in external areas from Easter before permitting inside service a month later.
Many of those in the trade took to social media to voice their frustration about the impact this will have on the industry alongside claims the Government was "leaking" this information to test public opinion.
UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said: “Keeping indoor areas closed until May and only allowed the use of outdoor areas is going to be economically unviable for many businesses.
"If this is the plan for reopening, it will see more businesses going under. We need a plan to get pubs open safely more quickly, otherwise the sector is in real danger of even more failures and job losses."
Let's be absolutely clear - pubs and restaurants open outdoors only is not economically feasible and delaying opening until May without significant additional compensation will see large numbers of business failures and job losses— Kate Nicholls (@UKHospKate) February 15, 2021
Loungers founder and chairman Alex Reilley reiterated the importance of hospitality being allowed to open as soon as possible.
He said: “May is two and a half months from now – two and a half months ago we were about to come out of lockdown two.
“Some scream hospitality is being ‘impatient’ or ‘unreasonable’ in wanting to reopen. The truth is, many in our sector won’t have a business left to reopen by May, Livelihoods and jobs destroyed.”
May is 2.5 months from now - 2.5 months ago we were about to come out of LD2. Some scream that hospitality is being ‘impatient’ or ‘unreasonable’ in wanting to reopen. The truth is many in our sector won’t have a business left to reopen by May. Livelihoods & jobs destroyed. pic.twitter.com/EsH8KP0Ske— Alex Reilley (@AlexReilley1) February 14, 2021
JD Wetherspoon (JDW) boss Tim Martin told Mail Online his thoughts on the rumoured plans for hospitality to reopen.
“These decisions are made by ministers with no experience of business or empathy for business,” he said.
“In my 41 years in business, it’s the least consultative and most authoritarian Government I’ve experienced.”
Multiple operator Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft criticised national media reporting of rumoured reopening.
He tweeted: “Another totally unhelpful article [in The Times] saying pubs could open serving outside in April, inside in May but it could be August.
“Who makes this nonsense up? August is nearly seven months off! Seven months ago we were open with Eat Out to Help Out. Many will be bust if we don’t open by May.”
Another totally unhelpful article today @thetimes saying pubs could open serving outside in April, inside in May but it could be August??? Who makes this nonsense up? August is nearly 7 months off!! 7 months ago we were open with EOTO. Many will be bust if we don’t open by May pic.twitter.com/BHAfifab21— Martin Wolstencroft (@wullybull) February 15, 2021
Night-time adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord said the "leaks" in the weekend newspapers caused fear for the trade.
He shared: "I called it yesterday. Today we wake up to hospitality 'leaks' on the front of every major newspaper.
"This isn't leadership. It causes anxiety, fear or false hope.
"They are testing public reaction before the announcement. Another week of uncertainty and rumour."
Celebrity chef and pub owner Tom Kerridge retweeted Lord's comments and added his thoughts on how the Government should conduct themselves in the future.
He said: "I just wish they'd actually hear what we've all been telling them for almost a year now.
"Moving forward, an honest approach with clarity and understanding would be a start. It's the wobbly uncertainty and spineless blurb that's so frustrating."
I just wish that they’d actually hear what we’ve all been telling them for almost a year now. Moving forward, an honest approach with clarity and understanding would be a start.... it’s the wobbly uncertainty and spineless blurb that’s so frustrating..... https://t.co/OniMyRoPPx— Tom Kerridge (@ChefTomKerridge) February 14, 2021